Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Would Kirsten Gillibrand Be An Even More Catastrophic Candidate Than The Last One The Democrats Tried Shoving Down America's Throat?


I got to know Kirsten Gillibrand in 2006, when Blue America endorsed her in her race race against GOP drunkard and wife-beater John Sweeney. I found her very engaging and very smart, far smarter than the average first time congressional candidate. Her race was a major Blue America priority. She was one of the candidates we got Rickie Lee Jones and the Squirrel Nut Zippers to record an ad for-- an ad we got up on the radio in the Albany and Burlington media markets:

Back in those days, NY-20 was a pretty red district with a PVI of R+3. It took up most of New York's eastern border and most of the Hudson Valley, both mother and south of Albany (although it didn't include Albany itself. It went from Dutchess County in the south all the way up into Essex County up north. There were 197,473 registered Republicans and just 82,737 registered Democrats. Gillibrand ran as a progressive although with a few reservations. Both Hillary and Bill Clinton campaigned for her in the district and she was a DCCC priority. They spent $800,000 on the race, helping her close the fundraising gap with Sweeney, who spent $3,425,841 to Gillibrand's $2,595,659. In the end, she beat him 117,799 (53%) to 104,157 (47%), part of the big Democratic wave that year that netted the Democrats 31 seats-- and the House majority.

Anyway, she made it into the House and immediately joined the Blue Dogs and started voting very corporately and very conservatively, comfortably recalling her old days as an intern for crooked Republican Alfonse D’Amato. I was horrified to think how badly I had misread her, thinking that because she was smart and knowledgeable and friendly, she was also progressive. She was anything but. She didn't seek out a reputation as a crazy anti-Hispanic xenophobe (who cosponsored Heath Shuler's vicious and bigoted anti-immigrant SAVE Act), a gun nut, with an "A" from her pals at the NRA, and a reputation for always being happy as a lark to vote for the GOP on just about anything-- but that reputation fit her well.

When Hillary left her Senate seat in 2009 and Gov. David Paterson was pressured to give the seat to Gillibrand, I wrote that "only 12 House Democrats have been worse than Gillibrand: Joe Donnelly (IN), Travis Childers (MS), Brad Ellsworth (IN), Heath Shuler (NC), Jason Altmire (PA), Chris Carney (PA), Dan Boren (OK), Harry Mitchell (AZ), Zack Space (OH), Gene Taylor (MS), Gabrielle Giffords (AZ), Collin Peterson (MN). Her record is actually worse than arch-reactionaries like Jim Marshall (GA), Henry Cuellar (TX), Mike McIntyre (NC), John Barrow (GA), Allen Boyd (FL) and Jim Matheson (UT), the Democrats who have done the most to help the Republican leadership build an effective conservative ruling coalition. Pelosi has taken a dim view of Gillibrand's propensity to cross the aisle on key issues, even voting to keep the war in Iraq going and to allow Bush to put through his FISA policies, and for a moment it looked like Pelosi's antipathy would prevent Gillibrand from being able to push her bid for the New York Senate seat. Many of her colleagues have a low opinion of her as well. In the end it didn't mean anything and Gov. Paterson chose her.

As soon as she was appointed to the Senate, Gillibrand set about re-packaging herself as a "progressive," albeit one who has taken $7,706,930 from the Finance Sector, more than any current Democrat in the Senate other than Chuck Schumer. Morons believe the repackaging as gospel. Rebecca Traister isn't a moron, but yesterday, writing for New York did a puff piece on behalf of Gillibrand's crusader to occupy the White House. In the context of Trump Ascendant I suppose if you're open-minded enough almost anyone is also gullible enough to let someone like Gillibrand get away with putting herself over as a progressive, although even Traister admits she had a "reputation as a moderate upstate hack, an unremarkable product of New York’s political machine." She then makes the spurious and laughably transparent claim that "Gillibrand had staked out the most defiant position among her colleagues, casting the most 'no' votes against his Cabinet nominees of any senator... earning admiration from progressives frustrated by other Democrats’ initial willingness to 'work with' Republicans."
One of Gillibrand’s staffers describes her as “hair-on-fire excited” about the numbers of calls her colleagues are receiving from voters on any number of issues. “I’ve certainly never lived through an era like this,” Gillibrand says. “I’ve never lived through a moment in history where people are using their voices and becoming strong advocates for what they believe in.” [She's 50, but was a conservative until fairly recently, so, true, she never had lived through such a time.] The only comparable contemporary example is from the right: the tea-party wave that swept through Congress in 2010.

“The grassroots are doing this,” says Gillibrand. “I mean, nobody told them to do it. Nobody told women to march. Nobody told people to run to JFK after the immigration ban. The message isn’t coming from Washington; that’s the crux. The message is coming from regular people, and no one is telling them what to do.”

...For someone who has established a position as one of the most anti-Trump Democrats in the Senate, Gillibrand seems to have a lot of Republican friends. She has avidly sought out conservative support for her most ambitious endeavors, including the 9/11 health bill and sexual-assault legislation, and has regularly partnered with Republicans on smaller-beans measures like banning microbeads from personal-care products, which she did in 2015 with Ohio Republican Rob Portman. “A remarkable success in an era of never doing anything,” she tells me drily.

Tennessee Republican Bob Corker once called Gillibrand a “honey badger.” One of her staffers says what this means is “she will work over her Republican colleagues hard to find a place they can agree.” (Dems, too: “Kirsten will follow somebody down the hall to talk to them about an issue, follow them into their office,” says Elizabeth Warren.) One of her favorite Republican partners, Susan Collins, whose wedding shower Gillibrand helped to throw five years ago, described her as “very tenacious, and I mean that as a great compliment.”

In early March, Collins and Gillibrand filed legislation to protect seniors against fraud, and Gillibrand hopes to persuade Collins to become a Republican co-sponsor of the Family Act, Gillibrand’s big paid-family-leave bill. “I know Susan’s worldview is similar to my worldview,” says Gillibrand. “Which is that we’re here to help people, and if we’re not helping people, we should go the fuck home.”
Ooh... just like Susan Collins, but willing to say "fuck" on the record! She refused to join the Young Dems in college but no one seems to know if she actually joined the Young Republicans before going to work for D’Amato. People do recall, though, that she was a corporate attorney who defended tobacco giant Philip Morris in court. By 2000 though, she seemed to have decided to "be" a Democrat, a Clinton Democrat who believed in equality for herself (and other women).
[T]he gun-friendly, anti-immigration stances that Gillibrand espoused upstate became instantly toxic when she was appointed to fill Clinton’s Senate seat. Senior Assemblyman Peter Rivera released a statement calling her immigration positions, including her opposition to amnesty and support for a guest-worker program that he likened to “21st-century slavery,” as “border[ing] on xenophobia.”

“The press pool was taking bets on how many months I would last,” Gillibrand says. “There was nobody in the state who thought I had any shot at being a good senator.” She began a course correction immediately. Within weeks of her appointment, she was meeting with Representative Nydia Velázquez on immigration and visiting with the family of Nyasia Pryear-Yard, a Brooklyn teenager killed by a stray bullet at a party.

Gillibrand flinches the first couple times I bring up her flip-- evidence to many that she is at least as opportunistic as she is idealistic, maybe more so. “I never changed my values,” she says defensively. Eventually she explains that her shift wasn’t an evolution; it was an education... During the 2016 primary, Gillibrand used her own change of heart to level criticism at Bernie Sanders, her frequent Senate ally, for his record on gun control.
She claims she's changed. I don't believe it. I'm one of those won't-be-fooled-again critics who still sees her as another opportunistic phony, the prototypical EMILY's List fake liberal whose concerns don't go further than what she sees in the mirror. Like Hillary she's wrapped herself in a kind of mainstream political feminism for rich white women. It's her crusade. Traister writes that she "a bit of a gender essentialist." If the Democrats are foolish enough to ever nominate her for president, she lose even worse than Hillary did and for many of the same reasons. And the Democrats will deserve the defeat.

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At 6:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

kinda puts your current batch of candidates you support into perspective. you never know... but you always know that if they win as a democrat, the democraps will be there to corrupt them.

never again.

At 7:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and if they won't be corrupted... the money will buy someone else who is at the next election.

never again.


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